ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

November 1997


Quality Is No 'Easy Rider'
Accountability, Confrontation two keys to success at Harley-Davidson

Rebel With A Cause
Who is accountable for productive meetings.

Measure for Measure
Merrill Lynch relies on measurements for success and customer satisfaction


When Change Is No Change At All
by Peter Block

The Balance Sheet: Hidden Costs of Open Book Management
by Cathy Kramer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

Letters to the Editor


Book Reviews With A Twist

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior
(a novel by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty)

"...creating a successful team - whether it's an NBA champion or a record setting sales force - is essentially a spiritual act. It requires the individuals involved to surrender their self-interest for the greater good so that the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts."
A spiritual act? Building a team of high priced men in baggy shorts is a spiritual act? Or building a sales team is a spiritual act? Wait a minute - this is business we're talking about? What's the spirit got to do with any of this? Isn't business about lots of money or the right commission/compensation plan?

Any of us that have built or worked with a successful team knows the answer - NO. It takes more than money to build a real team - in fact, money, talent and egos may be the greatest detriments to teamwork. Something else happens when a team comes together. When the trust, accountability and ability all converge and the team accomplishes truly special results, it's almost a magical feeling that is the result of a lot of hard work, practice, planning and the right kind of leadership.
In "Sacred Hoops, Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior," Chicago Bulls Head Coach Phil Jackson shares his secrets for building a successful team. He blends his unique experiences as a basketball player and coach with a strict Christian upbringing and discovery of Zen into a unique philosophy of mindfulness and oneness - two of his keys to building a successful team.

Jackson indeed has a unique and deep understanding of teams and what makes them successful. While it's nice to have team members like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, it takes more than talent to be successful.

The message from this book I will remember in 10 years: "Being in tune with what's happening on the court and fitting into the flow of action is far more important than trying to be heroic." How many times have we seen a work team or self-directed team torn apart by someone trying to be a hero?

Favorite new term: Mindfulness. "When players practice what is known as mindfulness - simply paying attention to what's actually happening - not only do they play better and win more, they also become attuned with each other." It's a lot of work, but the good teams know what's happening and why, and in turn are tuned into one another and the action around them - not just themselves.

Favorite quote: "Rather than coddling players or making their lives miserable, we try to create a supportive environment that structures the way they relate to each other and gives them the freedom to realize their potential.
I also try to cultivate everybody's leadership ability, to make the players and coaches feel that they've all got a seat at the table. No leader can create a team alone, no matter how gifted he is."

Advice for charting your future: "You have to trust your inner knowing. If you have a clear mind and an open heart, you won't have to search for direction. Direction will come to you."

Sacred Hoops is about a philosophy for life that we can apply to our teams and the work we do. I guarantee after reading the book - you'll look at your team in a different way.

Sacred Hoops, Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior, Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty, 1995, Hyperion, New York, NY,
ISBN 0-7868-8200-X, US $12.95, 224 pages.

Reviewed by Steve Gibbons, senior research and development consultant, The Principal Financial Group

Nov. '97 News for a Change | Email Editor
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